Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Weaving Those Threads Back Together
Over the past several weeks, a pattern to the season for Our Washington Nationals has emerged. A woven fabric showing the great detail of 2007's Trials & Tribulations. Stitch by Stitch chapters are being laid out. The sum result depicting the ups and downs of any baseball season. Lately, those woven stitches have centered on Our Pitching Staff. Injuries have been tantamount since early April. And, when four of the supposed top five starters landed on the Disabled List--missing significant time--no one gave Our Washington Nationals a chance.
Yet, despite those projections that those player losses would bury the team--somehow, someway--Our Washington Nationals emerged from that potential sorrow and played their best baseball of the season. Going 21-14 during one stretch, surprising everyone. Becoming a baseball team worth the price of admission. A cobbled together staff of starters that NO ONE ELSE WANTED, was exceeding all expectations.
First, as everyone knows, Our Washington Nationals lost John Patterson, Shawn Hill, Jason Bergmann and Jerome Williams. Then,Micah Bowie, Jason Simontacchi, Mike Bacsik and Billy Traber stepped up and Washington played better than anyone expected. But, now those lifelines, given their shots to re-emerge, are also begining to break down and showing their inconsistencies. Bowie now on the 15 Day Disabled List with a hip problem.
The resulting fabric woven illustrates the following diagram. A well pitched game lost late, followed by a well pitched game won, followed by a poorly pitched game lost handily. Last Night, the Design stitched for the first of four games versus The Chicago Cubs at RFK Stadium was "Poorly Pitched". Our Starter Jason Simontacchi had little in his tank. All his pitches were flat. After walking and hitting two of the first three batters he faced tonight--The Cubs took advantage of the free passes and made Jason pay for it. Aramis Ramirez with a two run double down the left field line. Then, a run scoring single by Old Friend Alfonso Soriano in the second, followed by four straight singles in the third by Chicago for two more runs. 5-0 for The Visitors. Jason Simontacchi had knitted himself a huge hole and he couldn't close it up. Our Number 50 was in serious trouble.
And, with Cubs Lefthander Ted Lilly looping and twisting his own pitches around Washington's hitters, all of Washington's batters were tied up in knots. Lilly pitching a no hitter into the 5th. Ted weaving a portrait tonight of a masterful artist with all his faculties in order for seven strong innings. The Cubs Starter was at the top of his game.
Simontacchi's Troubles and Lilly's Success linking a, hardly in doubt, 7-2 loss for Our Washington Nationals at RFK Stadium this beautiful, no humidity, July evening..
Our Washington Nationals had played above their heads for weeks, and looked good doing so. Now, comes a crucial stretch to the 2007 season. Will they fold, or fight back? Our Manager Manny Acta preaches patience. And shows a resolve to get each and everyone of his players to give their all at every moment out on the field of play. Manny's added texture to this Great Game of Baseball has been crucial to Our Washington Nationals not wasting away their season--accomplishing nothing--never moving forward. Manny Acta's added stitches have keep this team together, closely knit--impervious to the many calamities of other losing teams. Our Manager's job each and every day is to save that artwork being woven for 2007. A Far from Masterpiece Our Washington Nationals Team, that has begun to unravel as the season turns past its halfway point. A Moment Of Truth that finds Our Manager Manny Acta looking to stitch all those flailing threads back together again.
Stitch One, Pearl Two--must be Manny's Mantra To Weave Our Washington Nationals back on the track.
Game Notes & Highlights:
Yes, Tonight was the night for Alfonso Soriano to return to RFK Stadium. No Doubt, Our Former Number 12 was a Crowd Favorite in 2006. When Soriano came to the plate last year, he was A MUST SEE. Never did he not step up to the plate in an attempt to WHACK the baseball right out of the park. Alfonso was our most exciting player and downright thrilling at times with his antics covering leftfield. Number 12 was Theatre At Its Best. He's a great player and I don't begrudge him leaving, nor fault Our Washington Nationals. Alfonso Soriano being a Chicago Cub today is strictly business, nothing more.
Yet, it doesn't mean The African Queen will ever be comfortable with that decision. Sohna, like many other Nats Fans, came to LOVE ALFONSO. And, more than any other player that as ever played in DC during the nearly 3 years now of Nats Baseball--Soriano put her fanny in her customary seat each and every ballgame in 2006. She was infatuated with her favorite, well known around Section 320 as "Wiggly Butt", her moniker for Alfonso's crouched stand with rear end sticking out while batting at the plate. Tonight, she cheered on her love, with mixed emotions. She dearly wanted Our Washington Nationals to win, but as she stated: "Its just so hard to not want to see him do well." A true and factual point.
Alfonso Soriano played just one season in Washington, DC. Anyone that saw him play here in 2006, will remember him for their lifetime. That's how Important he was to Our Washington Nationals.
Section 320 honored Alfonso Soriano tonight by yelling our favorite cheer of all time. Alfonso!! SORIANO!! during each and every one of his at-bats. Its the least we could do, for the man that gave us so many fine moments in 2006. He is Special and We Miss Him and all The Excitement he brought to the ballpark every single day.
In the bottom of the 9th, moments before Our Washington Nationals unleashed a potential serious last second rally--Dimitri Young popped a foul ball deep down the left field line. Cubs Third Baseman Aramis Ramirez ran hard all the way, nearly into the left field line stands, looking over his head the entire way, while the ball was spinning back towards him in the air. At the very last split second, nearing a collision with stands--Armamis juked stepped the tarp near warning track to position his glove along the track to make a SERIOUSLY FINE CATCH. Dimitri Young was out on The Defensive Play of This Game. One of those plays that will be long forgotten in a rout. But, one that I will not forget for some time. All from a Defender like Ramirez not known for his fine glove work. Just a TERRIFIC PLAY.
RallyTime!! did erupt after that Ramirez play. Ryan Zimmerman was already on first base with leadoff double. And, Austin Kearns followed Young's out with roping liner to center scoring "Z" and making this a 7-2 game. When My Main Man!! Ryan Church hard slapped a grounder off Cubs First Baseman Derrick Lee and hustled all the way to first safely--what was left of the very thinned announced crowd of 24,015 were on their feet--Nationals Fans Hoping for That Miracle. Chicago Fans, well versed in failure--wishing for their team just to get those final outs.
But, when Cubs Reliever Bobby Howry walked FLop to load the bases--this game, well out of hand--got mighty interesting. Although still down 5 runs--and the game tying run was still not at the plate--Brian Schneider stepped up in an attempt to keep that wonder of possibility still alive. EVERYONE WAS ON THEIR FEET. I will always be fond of how RFK STADIUM can trap-in every single bit on noise. A few thousand can sound like 10 thousand. The Old Ballyard was rocking once again (something that will always bring a smile to my face.)
Schneider took called strike, ball one--then on the 3rd and final pitch of this At-Bat, Brian grounded sharply to Armamis Ramirez at third base--the Around The Horn--Double Play was in place: 5-4-3 the scoring on the game ending play. Cubs Fans erupting in joy over the victory. Nationals Fans getting up to leave but not without witnessing a furious rally--knowing at least Our Team did not give up until that final out was recorded.
I would imagine Our Manager Manny Acta had alot to do with Our Washington Nationals not quitting in that 9th inning.
By the way, Ted Lilly's middle name--"Roosevelt" Do you think Our Washington Nationals will let Teddy represent his Namesake over the next few games in The Presidents Race. That would be funny. And, also, being a good sport.
Sorry for the late game post. Quite frankly, I just needed to get some sleep. The African Queen demanded it. Rightfully, so.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Susan Walsh